Equine fetlock resistance under conditions of stress performance

The equine fetlock is fragile and constantly subject to stress and strain. This holds particularly true for animals who are used in high-intensity activities such as steeplechasing and flat racing. Many of the treatments which can add stremgth and endurance to these delicate joints are steroidal in nature and thereby involve an exclusion from competitive activities. Alternative approaches to this problem have therefore been sought. This paper reports an experiment in which thoroughbread horses were provided with betacarotene in varying doses.  The two dosage ranges—low and high—were selected based on findings of previous studies.  The betacarotene was administered in the form of intact exemplars of Daucus carota (n=1 and 3, respectively) as previous experience showed that the experimental animals found this palatable and thus the ease of administration was considerably increased.  A control group was not given a betacarotene supplement, but was instead administered with a crystalline form of the dried fluid from Saccharum officinarum, presented as a cube. In both control and experimental conditions, the dose was administered by a laboratory technician observing the appropriate protocol of presenting it on the flat of the palm.  Findings demonstrated a remarkable increase in the speed with which the animals in the high dosage group returned from pasture, when compared with the low dosage group. It is not unreasonable to suppose that this correlated with increased joint strength, thus demonstrating the effectiveness of this treatment. However, the control group were prompter in their response than the low dosage group.  Further research is needed to investigate whether a link can be found between joint strength and chemical compounds found in Saccharum officinarum.

Author(s):  Anoushka Gleason

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